A few weeks ago someone linked to this post about being a teenager in the 90s on Facebook, and I spent the next few weeks chuckling about it. Then this one popped up, and I just about died. All so true. Do you remember calling a boy and having to speak to his mother first? And do you still remember your best friend’s phone number (which you could only dial when your parents were off the Internet and had granted you 15 minutes of phone time)? Oh man. I should tell my Young Women to be truly grateful for cell phone technology.

But honestly,  here is an exact replica of my mental checklist before I headed off to school every morning in the late 1990s:

  • Have I borrowed my older sister’s favorite baby doll tee, which is much too small for me?
  • Have I properly tied up my cargo pants?
  • Do my platform flip flops match? (usually yes) Can I walk on them without looking like a fool? (usually no)
  • Have I applied enough matte lipstick and two-shades-darker lip liner so that my lips resemble those of Cher from Clueless?
  • Do I have enough glitter in my face and hair to signal to the queen of the fairies that I, too, am a fairy?
  • Ditto with butterfly clips?
  • Did I remember to pack my TI-83 calculator which my friend Mike has surreptitiously loaded with games like Tetris?
  • Is my disc man, fully stocked with AA batteries and the latest Backstreet Boys CD, immediately accessible for long bus rides?

Ah, the simple joys of teenage life. Best of all those lists, though, was the reminder about my Now! music CDs. About a month ago I was cleaning out the CDs in our car and stumbled across my Now! 5 CD, circa November 2000. That was the year of my super-fancy eighth-grade dance, my sweaty-palmed first day of high school, and my ridiculous crush on a boy named Alden Klemm. Wherever you are, Alden, I’ll always remember you. But not as fondly as I remember the music of that year, which is adeptly summed up in this track list from Now! 5.

No. Title Artist Length
1. It’s Gonna Be Me *NSYNC 3:10
2. Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche) 98 Degrees 3:24
3. Jumpin’ Jumpin’ Destiny’s Child 3:47
4. Don’t Think I’m Not Kandi 3:49
5. I Think I’m in Love with You Jessica Simpson 3:36
6. Faded soulDecision 3:24
7. Shake It Fast Mystikal[N 1] 4:13
8. Case of the Ex Mýa 3:50
9. Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) Aaron Carter 3:24
10. Lucky Britney Spears 3:25
11. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely Backstreet Boys 3:53
12. Incomplete Sisqó 3:51
13. I Wanna Be with You Mandy Moore 4:12
14. Doesn’t Really Matter Janet Jackson 4:16
15. Back Here BBMak 3:37
16. Absolutely (Story of a Girl) Nine Days 3:11
17. Kryptonite 3 Doors Down 3:53
18. Wonderful Everclear 4:32
19. It’s My Life Bon Jovi 3:43

I also stumbled across Now! 6, which I have yet to pop in my car’s CD player. But yesterday my Fresno BFF Lauren (what can we say, we were both victims of 80s baby names) brought along Now! 7 on our way to the splash pad with the kiddos. We rolled down the windows and jammed out to What Would You Do? (the saddest song you’ll ever know all the words to) and Flavor of the Weak (a feminist anthem by a boy band?).

There is something so incredibly delightful about teenage nostalgia for me. And the music of those years is such a quick portal back to a time that feels long ago and far away–perhaps because music was such a huge part of my life then. It’s really fun to relive the memories of those days–mostly, I think, because they are of intense times and feelings that I never, ever, ever have to go back to.

What takes you back to your teenage days? And do you, like me, have Now! CDs and AA batteries stockpiled for when the revolution comes and the Internets get broken?